… or are you? Whether we practice them or not, most of us have become familiar with the benefits of the ‘slow food’ philosophy; how slowing down in our preparation and enjoyment of a meal can improve both the experience itself and our longterm health. How might the same attitude affect our writing?
I had to fill out a permission form today, and instead of grabbing the nearest pen and zipping through it as quickly as possible, ending with an illegible scrawl of a signature, I decided to put my portable Royal typewriter (circa 1927) to good use.
I bought it at a thrift store last summer, and had it re-ribboned and oiled by Polson’s Office Products, a longtime Vancouver business machine company that has seen many of its products become eclipsed by the computer age. They have given up their storefront location (victim as well to the new Canada Line station) and now give old-fashioned, door-to-door service (call 604-879-0631 for info).
Typing, or for that matter, thoughtful handwriting, require two things that any writer needs: patience, and the willingness to be imperfect. It allows me to focus my attention on the physical act of writing, a welcome balance to the cacophony of thoughts whirling through my writer-brain, each pounding on the door in a bid to be let out.
When the writing is slowed, the most authentic, important thoughts rise to the top and the others die away. And by accepting the inevitable blotches and typos that come with manual writing, I am perhaps more likely to stick with that thought; see it through until it is fully, if imperfectly, expressed, rather than continually backspacing to ‘pretty it up’ as I go along and thereby robbing it of some of its raw power or momentum.
If you google ‘slow writing,’ the majority of articles you’ll find deal with how to deal with the problem of slow writing in children or adults. But I have heard of a religious practice in which a scribe forms each letter of a sacred text individually and deliberately, conscious of every curl of his pen as he faithfully transcribes the sentences. The slow reading and contemplation of a scripture verse, or ‘lectio divina’ is a reclaimed meditative practice in many mainstream Christian churches. Why not ‘slow writing’?
We experiment with many things in our writing craft; where we write, with whom we write, when we write, what we write… but you may not have considered varying the speed at which you write.
Summer holidays are a natural time to make a conscious effort to slow down. Instead of sitting down at your desk to your usual 1000-word daily quota, try sitting in the shade with a pencil and limiting yourself to one small piece of paper. Spend the same amount of time as if you were churning out your thousand words, but slow your pace so that you come out with just one page worth. Or try writing a scene of dialogue on a manual typewriter instead of on your computer. Does changing the pace of your writing change its flavour?
Most of us require the speed and convenience a computer lends us. But learning to slow down and enjoy the actual craft of writing, even if only on the occasional summer afternoon, brings a certain magic of its own.test Filed under From Peggy, Inspiration | Comments Off